Visual architectingA Trace in the Sand

by Ruth Malan

 

 

 

 

September 2006

9/5/06 September Already!

I'm just getting started on September... For now, by all means take a look at the back issues: August, July, June, May, April, March, February.

9/5/06 Upcoming Software Architecture Events

Thanks to Eoin Woods for pointing these out. He's fixed his comments about the Resources for Architects site, but now he's "encouraging" us to update the EWITA site. Yes, the "site updates" page got left far behind in 2002 (oops... didn't know anyone looked at that!). It is true that the EWITA site does need attention, even though it is not true that the last time the EWITA site was updated was 2002, and some glancing at the dates on the footnotes to pages on the site would reveal that. I have been wanting to overhaul the layout of the EWITA site and that is a big job. So, every time we think of major updates on the EWITA site we get stuck on the priorities; minor updates are easy to leave on the priorities stack but a huge overhaul tends to lose out to other action items like the EA competency framework.

9/6/06 Upcoming Enterprise Architecture Events

While we're on the subject of conferences, here's a number of conferences of interest to Enterprise Architects:

Ben Ponne (GEAO) is presenting at the Enterprise Architecture Regional Summit in Singapore, starting September 25, 2006. 

9/6/06 Trace in the Sand Blog

Speaking of updates, I really must get around to another blog post. My Trace in the Sand blog is not exactly a hub of activity--yet??? Anyway, I should still keep up the discipline of posting to it, for those who have paid me the compliment of reading and subscribing to the blog. There's a momentum-thing that needs to build, and until it does it is hard to motivate the attention it needs to be vigorous, but without the attention it will not build momentum. It's so much easier to simply jot down my thoughts, and feel free to edit them, in a "journal" that makes no claim to be a blog, but rather just a (partial) record of my exploration of architecture territory.

9/6/06 Crowdsourcing!

Catching up on links from Kevin's Architect's Linksblog, I was reading the Design Futures blogged-conversation going on between Bob Baxley, Dirk Knemeyer, Jim Leftwich and Luke Wroblewski. In part IV, Luke Wroblewski quotes Wired Magazine:

"Remember outsourcing? Sending jobs to India and China is so 2003. The new pool of cheap labor: everyday people using their spare cycles to create content, solve problems, even do corporate R & D."

I'm not at all sure what is "so 2003" about outsourcing to India and China; the trend began well before 2003, and has shown no signs of abating, as far as I can tell. As for "crowdsourcing" we called it "moonlighting" and I was moonlighting in the 80's. But the internet does change the supply-demand access picture, and provides the substrate for the Cottage Revolution that will change businesses across the board. "Crowdsourcing" is just one aspect of this revolution. The interesting thing about "crowdsourcing" is that it says that companies are not motivating and paying people enough to spend all their cycles on their day-job.

I know one enterprise architect who is renovating houses after hours, to raise his income so that he can retire early.  Wouldn't it be great if this enterprise architect could officially work 1.5 enterprise architect jobs for his current employer and not have to do the renovating business on the side?

9/8/06 Crowdsourcing: Working from home

More and more families are balancing the work-childrearing challenge by having at least one of the parents work from home. We started a business right after we had kids, because it gave me the flexibility to work from home. At that time, the internal HP consulting group I was part of was pressuring me get back out to my "clients," architects and managers in HP divisions (HP being as distributed as it is, that meant multi-day engagements far from home), but I was not ready to be away from my baby overnight. I'm still not ready (now that my "babies" are 6 and 8--years old) but I do it anyway. Sigh.  Anyway, while the kids were little I took a break from traveling, but not from working. For all the time that I had worked at HP Labs, I had telecommuted to HP in California from my home in New Hampshire, so I was no stranger to self-motivating prodigious productivity.

I'm finding that more and more software engineers and architects telecommute. And more women, in all walks of life, are choosing this route so that they can have a presence in their young children's lives without giving up intellectually satisfying and economically rewarding work-lives.

So, it occurred to me--software development leading to system architecture is a great career for women trying to be good mothers and fully-functioning team members contributing to product and service innovation. Our society needs great developers, designers and system architects. And they can work largely from home. This is an angle I was not presented with when I was looking at careers. I think it could be compelling for young women looking at how they want to live and contribute to society and their own self-image and personal gratification. So tell your daughters, sisters, nieces, wives--and sons, brothers, nephews, husbands. I would like to see more men teaching at elementary schools, and more women--and men--in computer science/software engineering!

I really don't mean to sound like I'm making self-centric demands (as in, "I would like"). It is nice to have no lines for the women's bathrooms at every architecture meeting or event I attend, so my exhortations are counter to my self-interest, if you really think about it! :-)

So this is where this thought thread gets back to crowdsourcing: if corporate America doesn't tap this intellect pool, then "crowdsourcing" cottage industries will. We will see work-communities emerging to fill this need to give stay-at-home moms and dads ways to earn an income and be intellectually engaged, granting identity that takes into account both sides of ourselves--our desire to be part of and contribute to something larger, and our desire to serve our families.

9/8/06 Grady Booch Healing

Good news from Grady Booch's blog: more progress, and confirmation that priorities have been shuffled in the direction of less distraction keeping him from his Architecture Handbook work. Grady is uniquely talented and uniquely positioned to give our field a major boost through his Architecture Handbook.

9/8/06 Keith Frampton and Architect Capabilities

Ben Ponne introduced me to Keith Frampton's work on architect capabilities. Keith heads up one of only 3 Enterprise Architecture Masters degree programs in the world, as far as we know--at RMIT University in Australia. Coming from industry, and closely tuned to industry touch-points, Keith is doing interesting and relevant research, and is another great connector. He's already directed my attention to relevant work in the system engineering area by Heidi Davidz at MIT and the Finnish LARRKI project focusing on Enterprise Architecture. Thanks Keith!

It does make me realize that I need to create an area on the Resources for Architects site that links to university programs in software architecture, enterprise architecture, systems architecture, and so forth. So, if you know of such programs, please do let me know about them.

9/9/06 Still Glowing

On occasion someone takes the trouble to give thanks, praise, encouragement on content on the Resources for Architects web site. As you know, when someone does that about your work, it leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling. So, thanks Bob S. for:

"I have found the material on your site to be wonderfully written and topically right-on!"

9/11/06  For tomorrow: Bredemeyer is not about greenfields only

I came across a blog post [Paul's Blog: Welcome] that implied that "Bredemeyer" (which I take to mean the Visual Architecting Process) is about greenfields projects only. So tomorrow I must remember to take that on. For now, suffice it to say, we view the architecting process as ongoing, throughout the life of the system. Release x of the system, is iteration y of the architecture, where y is some number considerably bigger than x!

(On "Yikes Scott": given that I persuaded myself that the right thing to do was shoot Scott an email, I removed my comments. Too bad, I particularly like the "Doing nothing, does nothing" quote. Ah, you have to be quicker to read my entries. :-)

9/12/06 9/11 remembrance and travel

It never occurred to me when I scheduled the 9/12 start to the EA workshop that Dana and a good many people in the workshop would have to travel on the 5th anniversary of 9/11. I hear it was slow going, with lots of delays.  Dana got there safely, though later than scheduled.

Last night, my son asked about 9/11. He was 3 at the time, and we were in South Africa working with a banking client there. He didn't see any of the endless TV footage, but he has mentioned it since. I assumed he knew more, but he asked me what kind of airplane the terrorists used; he didn't know they'd hijacked airliners. It is hard to tell a child about 9/11; hard to rob them of innocence. Not being inured by constant exposure to violence on TV, we do so feel the throb of individual and mass loss. Even now, it is hard to think of all the families who, with such sudden excruciating finality, lost someone they love.

[Aside: Not watching TV, and going to a small-town Montessori school, means the kids have a quaint take on things. In her treatise titled "What we should change! by Sara age 6," Sara wrote (I retained her spelling):

"Presadents can be presadents twice. 4 years is a long time. And eight years is even more long. Other people want to be presadents. Like Goerge Bush and John Kerry."

A 6 year olds sense of fair play: give other people who want a turn, a turn. Oh, and she has her sights set on being president. She already dominates our household, so I'm afraid she stands a chance! But with her in the picture, my son is being better prepared to negotiate and maintain peace. Good training for an architect, or world leader--which an architect needs to be!]

9/12/06 IT/Software Staffing

With CS enrollments crashing, the pressure to find talent is increasing. Joel is posting on this topic ("Finding great developers," 9/2/06), CIO Magazine is engaging with it ("How to hook ... talent," 9/1/06), and so are Abraham et al ("IT Workforce Trends: Implications for IS Programs," Communications of the Association for Information Systems, Volume 17, 2006), and Zwieg et al ("The Information Technology Workforce:Trends and Implications 2005-2008," MIS Quarterly Executive Vol. 5 No. 2 / June 2006). (Thanks to Keith Frampton for sending me the latter two of these, and Kevin Furbish for pointing out the first on his Architect's Linksblog.)

9/12/06 Referring back

I was looking back over earlier posts to this journal. Having started several months ago, and since so much has happened in the interim, it's unfamiliar; like I'm reading someone else's work. If you jumped into this adventure more recently, there's some better material in earlier months.... August and September were washed away in vacation and then vacation-catch-up.

And it does remind me—Dana got a LinkedIn update on Rand Barbano, and he became VP of Marketing at SimpliFi Wireless in March. So I gather R2 Associates didn't survive the crucial first 3 years. Fortunately we made it through that start-up mortality hump. 

9/12/06 Visual Architecting: Not just for starters

Introducing himself as an architect, and exploring what architecture is, Paul Monday writes in his blog:

"applying Bredemeyer in two places will be difficult, unless you got lucky enough to start from scratch in both places...and how often does that happen in real life"

In one respect, this is a compliment: Paul assumes that his readers know what "applying Bredemeyer" means. But what he says is misleading.

The Visual Architecting Process (VAP, a.k.a. "Bredemeyer") assumes that you drop into the process wherever you find yourself when you parachute in to a project. To be sure, if you're in the throes of release 3.1 you have less architectural leeway than when you're starting out on iteration 1 of release 1.

But wherever you start, you need to establish that you have a vision. What no vision? No vision, no direction; no direction, and you're on a random walk. Then again, if you have a vision that your team shares, and alignment among your sponsors and they are championing your vision, why, you can check off Init/Commit.

And then you need to sift for architecturally significant requirements. What, you don't have requirements? That marketing guy you've been avoiding might be useful after all--he's been neighboring with your customers and your sales team. Then again, if you have a clear set of prioritized architecturally significant requirements, you have confidence that with these priorities you will deliver differentiating value, your system property requirements are clearly articulated so that you can assess the architecture against them, your constraints are explicated, assumptions shared, why, then you can check off requirements.

And then you need to evaluate your architecture against your requirements. What, no architecture? At least, everyone considers that PowerPoint slide you once called architecture a joke, its so out of date... Wahoo! Call me in! What do I do? Well, Bredemeyer of course! Again, what do I do? Call in your component owners. Go through the architecturally significant use cases. Map responsibilities onto components. Document as we go. What, you don't have component owners? Well, I'm not here to judge. Architects do the hard stuff, right? So, here's some hard stuff! Do we start over, or try to tease some order out of the mess? What's that? The SOA team is asking you to expose and propagate identity, marketing is asking for 6 new features to be done by ... yesterday, and QA just reported... OK, I won't go on; this is a quiet, but not entirely private, forum. Now, a structural engineer would tell you to dose the thing, but this is your life, your job, and you have to find a way to get through one more release. The hard stuff.  Then again, if you have a clear set of well-documented components and architectural mechanisms, and your system actually implements these, why, then the hard stuff is, well, still hard. That's why Sun needs smart, experienced architects like Paul Monday, and you. Of course, only smart people are reading this.

The Visual Architecting Process (VAP) lays out the context for the decisions that need to be made, provides some tools for thinking them through, but does not make the decisions for you. If you think of ways to make VAP more helpful, tell me. Why should you? You want the state of our practice to be better, so that your systems can be advanced in deliberate, intentional, visible and more predictable ways. In our reuse/software factory project days, Martin Griss used to say something along the lines of: encountered once: exception?; twice: coincidence?; three times: perhaps we're on to a pattern here. You may begin to see the patterns stretched out over the span of projects you work on; in linear time. I get to learn from more, and more diverse, projects, more architects, more architectures, concurrently.  But my experience is spotty, and often more shallow than I'd like. Your experience is deep, and my access to it only as deep as you allow. I am committed to sharing what I learn, as effectively as I can. Which may not be much. But influence me, and you expand your routes to influencing our field to do better. Our field does better, and your job gets a little bit less hard.

Ok, when I'm "colorful" I get uneasy and then my editing hand gets heavy, so I don't know how long the above paragraphs will last... The trouble with provocatively "colorful" is that it tends to create rifts. And I especially don't want Paul Monday to think he's in the line of fire. I'm sure Paul's projects fall in the italics. He is a smart and experienced architect; someone I'd probably like, certainly someone I wouldn't want to provoke! If he thinks Bredemeyer is for starting from scratch (only), then others do too. I'm indebted to him for surfacing this conception. I'd surely like Paul to apply Bredemeyer/VAP... even before he starts on the next gen architecture for StorEdge. But here's the thing, we started to call the process we articulated the Visual Architecting Process, because we realized people were calling it the "Bredemeyer process." The objection is not that it isn't being called the Malan process! No, my objection, our objection, is because it is the process good architects use. It is the process that Paul is intuitively using, I have no doubt! We just gave the process "handles" so that we can talk about it, make what we are doing more explicit, more disciplined and self-conscious.

And then again, we really do need to be starting over with more frequency -- in REAL LIFE! Even when we get better at disciplined system evolution, we should still plan to obsolete our aging platforms. If we don't, an upstart competitor will.

Well, I'm being pinged on my "mom" interface. So provocative stays; for now, and with some amendment, for now (9/13).

9/12/06 Email Updates

Today was a quiet day. No friendly pointers to fresh insight, interesting challenges or work I should read. Disappointing.

But yesterday I was challenged to provide pointers to help on getting senior management to see that software has been become a key business differentiator, to recognize that software architecture has to be part of "business as usual." Naturally I think I am the pre-eminent source of such help, so I'm flummoxed; just kidding. It's a bad habit I have, to poke fun at myself. But you have to know me to know I'm not that arrogant, to get that I'm using irony; or I have to tell you. Anyway, it's a good topic to organize resources around. I'll get right on it; tomorrow, or at least soon.

9/13/06 More on email updates

And on Friday, Gerrit Muller sent out this update on changes to his splendidly generous and useful Gaudi architecture website:

The following new papers and presentations have been added:

The following presentation is now also available as a paper:

New presentations:

Gerrit and his wife will be visiting us in Bloomington, Indiana, later this month. I'm looking forward to that! Gerrit has poured himself into his architecture research and teaching, and shares the products of his passionate labor freely. He is a great leader in the space, and a genuinely nice person. Confident but unassuming, fun, and very sharp: intelligent, insightful, penetrating, logical. A through-and-through engineer, great architectural thinker, and overflowing with grace.

Of course, if you venture to characterize someone, you risk not mentioning qualities they care most about in themselves. But I tend to take such risks because in this life, sincere appreciation is expressed far less than it is deserved. I'm looking forward to meeting Gerrit's wife; they have done great things together, alongside his system architect life.

So, if you haven't yet visited Gerrit's Gaudi website, or haven't done so in a while, I highly recommend you do. Isn't the internet great? You can "visit" a person without visiting the person; no invitation required!

9/13/06 Parodying Architects

Simon Munro has a classification of architects that draws on the strong South African tradition of satirical humor. Caricature helps us learn about the boundaries we set in our expectations and in our values. With that in mind, well done, Simon. Also, Simon is blogging on his experiences leading up to selection for MCA certification. Ambitious, smart, energetic and a risk taker. I value ambition, intelligence, energy, passion, and I have to give credit to (calculated) risk takers. I wonder if he's looking to leave South Africa—we just heard from Intuit, and they are looking for an application architect and they're willing to relocate the right talent, even if you're "non-local."

9/14/06 Attitude

HP is going through a scandal, but bad behavior at the board level hasn't impacted stock prices--they have risen 10% in the past week! It is good that HP employees aren't being punished (by decreasing their net worth) for the indiscretion of board members. Even so, such events can create a morale hit, and leaders have to watch their own attitude and energy level, because they can set the tone for the emotional climate.

My son likes to do something "fun" before school in the morning. This morning, he was pestering me for ideas on what he could do, that was fun. Nothing I suggested was fun enough. So I told him having fun has a lot to do with our attitude; if we are not open to it, we will not have fun; if we approach what we are given to do with enthusiasm, we are open to delight. But, in truth, I wasn't having fun at that point, stressed by the diurnal struggle getting two reluctant kids to engage in the daily necessities of dressing and eating and generally readying themselves for school.

We have to manage ourselves, because we impact those we lead. Yes, they bear responsibility for their attitude, but if we want to be leaders, we need to accept our share of that responsibility. We need to set a good example in good times and in bad: inspire, sometimes redirect but mainly encourage, stay positive, energetic, creative and resourceful.

This is true, leading up (in terms of the formal organization structure), across and down. Architects are often caught between vacillating managers, trying to figure out how to respond to context changes, and frustrated engineers, who have pitted themselves mightily to achieve what has been done so far, accomplishments now threatened by change. The architect as leader and bridge, needs to understand the changes in context, help management find a strategic response to them, and explain, persuade and rebuild enthusiasm among the technical community. We can't reflect the emotional tone of those who feel disenfranchised by these changes, even though we are sorely impacted by them ourselves. We have to dig deep within ourselves, be resilient to the collapse of personal vision, and start about building it afresh. I don't know how many times one can do that, without becoming jaded. But I believe the key is to have fun; find delight in the next challenge. Inspire our technical community to take it on; banish any sense of failure and any tendency to blame.

Today's world is so competitive, being great demands passion. Passion and dejected pessimism make poor bedfellows. I wouldn't want to brook the ire poured on Kathy Sierra for her "(un)Happy People" blog post, but it is hard to imagine a dejected, pessimistic leader inspiring a community to great accomplishment. The world is full of strange and miraculous things, but this is not one I have encountered, nor do I expect to.

But I was amused to read this in John Wood's Leaving Microsoft (2006) book:

"Over a Mongolian hot-pot dinner with Ben, I joked that maybe if you went high enough into the Himalayas, you could not hear Steve Ballmer screaming at you."

So, you'll note I'm careful to say "dejected, pessimistic" not dissatisfied and angry. Apparently "hard-charging, demanding, and voluble" gets pretty decent results in some quarters. Not in mine; shout at and harangue me and my spirit shrivels, my energy dissipates. But apparently it works for some. For a while, until the Himalayas make you question how you're spending your passion.

9/14/06 Request to Link

There are some in the building profession who get just a little frustrated by the "Resources for Architects" appellation to our site. It leads to such misunderstandings as "Please add the following url to your list: www.cadpro.com," just received.  Despite the potential for confusion outside our field, there are so many different kinds of architects that our site works for, that I have more recently tended to generalize from Resources for Software Architects to Resources for Architects. But hey, one of the chief software architects we work with applies VAP in her interior design hobby!

9/14/06 Literacy and Leaving Microsoft

Reading further into Leaving Microsoft, I was alternately laughing out loud and shedding quiet tears. There is a lot about John Wood's odyssey that is compelling to me. The call of HelpMatch (just think of what HelpMatch would do for Room to Read) reverberates in the contrast between poor and rich, deprivation and excess, in my own experience and in the global experience. Perhaps its a good thing there is no Himalayan monastery nearby (sorry, you have to read the book); perhaps not.

When I started this architecture journal I promised myself I would not be personal, revealing. I learned on Grady Booch's blog/journal that the 31st anniversary of his 18th birthday was a few years ago. But leaders tell stories, leaders are real. And HelpMatch needs a leader.

I just have to resolve whether that is what I want to do, completely.

My mother would say, "What will you tell St. Peter at the gates to Heaven?" So, in the back of my mind, that spot where mothers' voices linger, there's this nagging recognition: if St. Peter was to ask me now, how I invested the gifts I was given at birth and through the course of my experiences, I'd be disappointed in my answer.

Well, anyway, I recommend John Wood's Leaving Microsoft to Change the World. It has the all elements of a great story: rich, successful young man gives up everything: wealth, girlfriend, meteoric career in a company that demands aggressive excellence and finds himself alone, facing his middle years with an empty bank account but a head full of memories that eclipse even the pinnacles of most of our experiences, a heart filled by enriched relationships, a clear vision and commitment to the pursuit of shifting the lot cast by history and circumstance to the world's poor--and a pot of gold sitting under this rainbow of a book which you should buy, and read--and tell your friends too. Your purchase will help fund John Wood's dream of bringing books to the those who were born on the wrong side of the poverty line, bringing them opportunities they would not otherwise have.

9/15/06 Leaving Microsoft

I read the reviews of Leaving Microsoft on Amazon. The world is full of different people. Here's what one had to say:

"I only have one quibble with this book and that is that at some points, Wood seems almost whiny. There are at least a handful of times in which he is close to tears, and a few more in which he does some real soul-searching. Luckily for us readers, Wood writes more about these instances in his journal than in his book."

Well, I'm glad John Wood shared not just the landscape and feature of his journey, but also his personal growth, with us.  Management and leadership books abound. Few inspire. A book is truly worth reading if it leaves the reader changed. Example is a good teacher. John Wood changed himself, and in changing himself he changed the world. That's a lesson worth learning. Tears and all.

9/15/06 EA Workshop Gets Blogged

James Hooper has been blogging Dana's Enterprise Architecture Workshop this week. From Dana's perspective it was a great group of architects; you have to be smart and both technically and organizationally effective to make it to the EA position, so it's not surprising. And while James does a good job covering important areas of the workshop, there's more to each of the days than he's covered in his blog (and by rights, he should not cover the entire workshop, of course!). So, there's still more to be learned from our workshop, and we'll see you in the Bay Area in March, right? I do need to post that date and place on the Resources for Architects website.

And Dana is so sweethe recommended my blog, though the link James gives comes to my homepage (probably because that is what Dana mentioned). That might be OK for some, but this journal is a little lacking in minimalism for most!  My blog posts are essays, but that is the style I've tended to gravitate towards in blogs I read. Which I guess is my way of rationalizing/excusing my too-long posts even on my blog!

Well, it's my turn to be in Chicago next week.

9/16/06 EA Workshop Flip Charts

I'm working on putting photos of the flip charts from the Chicago EA workshop onto the Resources for Architects website. As soon as I'm done, I'll let James Hooper know so he can take them off his. That way we can put on a copyright notice on the page and all that good stuff. One has to be careful to protect other people's rights to intellectual property. And I need to be vigilant about our rights, because while we do this work with a generous and giving spirit, it is also our livelihood.

It is surprising how people, even those writing books, will steal content published on the internet either directly, or with thinly veiled paraphrasing, and publish it as their own work. I don't, by any means, mean that this is what James Hooper has done, but only mean that we need to be clear about the source, content and ownership of our workshop intellectual property. We give credit to Raj Krishnan and Aaron LaFrenze who helped us with the first version of the EA workshop, and to Grove whose Graphic Guides we adapt and which have inspired new graphic guides germane to our domain. And we give credit to all the architects who have taught us what we know.

And, for the workshop flip charts, the work was done by the teams of participants in the workshop, so the teams feel ownership of this good work. But the workshop flip charts publish our process, and I need to insist that we get to publish our process first. So I think a good compromise is to publish this work on our web site, so we can credit the workshop participants (I'll name names if the participants want me to and give me their permission to), acknowledge Grove, and keep credit for the process we have created.

9/16/06 EA Workshop Flip Charts

Ok, I've put the photos of the flip charts from the Chicago EA workshop onto the Resources for Architects website. And James Hooper has kindly changed the link on his blog.

The workshop flip charts are good work especially given the fast pace, but they represent partial work, and if you weren't at the workshop, they come out of context. If you haven't been to our workshop, you'd be better off reading our Cutter papers (Architect Role and EA as Strategic Differentiator), spending some time on our draft book, and surfing the Resources for Architects web site to see if you like our approach.

9/25/06 Technical Strategy

The system architect owns the technical strategy, and must determine feasibility of the approach and prioritization among requirements. The architect needs to evaluate the difficult problems that must be addressed to decide if the system is realistic and realizable: given the resources and capabilities can we do this? And if so, how do we go about doing this? The technical strategy (captured in Meta-architecture) sets direction and scope, taking into account opportunities and threats and considering complexity and risk management.

The architect needs to determine the key structural design elements and come up with an approach to delivering the strategic intent of the business while addressing the risks and uncertainties. And the architect needs to get buy-in to the approach and build confidence among management sponsors and champions, as well as the development community, that this can and should be done, and we have a good strategy for reaching our vision.

9/25/06 HelpMatch Considerations

Requirements to consider:

  1. Business-to-business use of the system: for example, allow computer manufacturers to find school(s) with needs to support.

  2. Flexible mechanism to enter new search categories/classifications so that we do not have to enter them all in advance/avoid building them in to the system.

  3. Input mechanism to allow users to suggest improvements and new ways they'd like to use the system.

Rishi pointed me to www.orkut.com as another social networking example.

9/28/06 Skills, Shortages and Architects

The concern over computer science enrollments is making its mark locally, and nationally. The Tennessaean reports "Universities see sharp drop in computer science majors" (9/25/06). At the same time, InformationWeek is reporting on "What are the hottest tech skills today?" (9/21/06).

Why is this relevant to architects? Well, outsourcing and offshoring is relevant: what is the role of the architect in a global sourcing market? The architect as technical strategist has to be thinking strategically about what it makes sense to outsource, offshore, and develop locally, in-house; it only makes sense to get input from architects on these kinds of decisions if architects are thinking about them from the technical and the business angle.

The architect needs to be thinking ahead, and thinking about the competitive landscape and how it will be reshaped by technology and market forces over the strategic horizon (3 months; 6 months; a year; 3 years). The architect needs to be thinking about value delivery and differentiation, about operational excellence, innovation or customer intimacy—whatever dimension your business unit has chosen as its primary competitive angle.

The architect is a leader in the technical community. Leaders take on a big responsibility--the responsibility to lead to success. So what does success look like? How do we get comfortable ourselves with the notion that we can lead to success, and build confidence in the community we lead that we have a sense of where to go and how to get there?

Part of my "leadership challenge" is getting architects to recognize that they will be better architects if they are asking these questions, but it can be a stretch for me and for those I try to influence, brow-beat, and otherwise inspire and propel; it requires a shift in the communal consciousness that takes time to motivate, gestate, and ultimately begin to bear fruit. We come from the left-brain world of engineering; solving bounded problems well. We have to move into the right-brain world of ambiguity, uncertainty; the world of fuzzy, ill-specified problems and then add to that the need to lead to on-time value delivery in a world of fierce competition that drives the boundaries of the problem in every dimension simultaneously!

So, it is good to see that in software tech areas, companies are investing 8.2% more this year in training and leadership development! Go right ahead and claim some of that increase for yourself. Investing in the apex of a company's innovation and productivity stack makes absolute sense--business sense to me; personal sense to you; and business sense to your company. A nice balance.

Yes, there are 6 or 7 seats open in the open enrollment workshop in DC (well, actually Arlington, VA, but it's a pretty easy hop by train over the river to DC, as best I recall) in November.

9/28/06 Chicago Workshop Insights

In the Software Architecture Workshop in Chicago last week, Rishi Khullar shared that his team puts a vivid description of the motivating problem first in their principles statements, followed by the principle that will redirect choices. Very often, in architecture work, we state our architecture decisions in concise terms. But decisions, stated with brevity as the driving concern, can be poor advocates for themselves. One way to create more energy is to position the decision in counterpoint to the problem it addresses, or motivate it by showing how it links to the strategic intent of the architecture.

 

Copyright © 2006 by Ruth Malan
URL: http://www.ruthmalan.com
Page Created: September 5, 2006
Last Modified: January 25, 2015

I also write at:

- Bredemeyer Resources for  Architects

- Trace In the Sand Blog

 

By Topic (September)

- Upcoming EA Events

- Trace in the Sand Blog

- Crowd-sourcing

- Booch Healing

- Keith Frampton

- Still Glowing

- Not for Greenfields Only

- 9/11 remembered

- IT/Software staffing

- Referring Back

- VAP: Not Just for Starters

- Email Updates

- Learning from Parody

- Attitude (and Leadership)

- Leaving Microsoft

 

Archives

2014

- January
- February
- March
- April
- May
- June
- July
- August
- September
- October
- November

 

2013

- January
- February
- March
- April
- May
- June
- July
- August
- September
- October
- November
- December

2012

- January
- February
- March
- April
- May
- June
- July
- August
- September
- October
- November
- December

 

2011

- January
- February
- March
- April
- May
- June
- July
- August
- September
- October
- November
- December

 

2010

- January
- February
- March
- April
- May
- June
- July 
- August
- September
- October
- November
- December

2009

- January
- February
- March 
- April
- May
- June
- July
- August 
- September
- October
- November
- December

2008

- January
- February
- March
- April
- May
- June
- July
- August
- September
- October
- November
- December

2007

- January
- 
February
- March
- April
- May
- June
- July
- August
- September
- October
- November
- December

2006

- February
- March
- April
- May
- June
- July
- August
- September
- October
- November
- December